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19 Nov 2020 Member Engagement

One of our members has provided feedback on JobMaker following the preamble written on 13 November 2020 by the Senior Advocate at The Tax Institute, Robyn Jacobson. Their comments are set out below.

Thanks for your excellent commentary on JobMaker. My experience tells me that elderly people have way more difficulty finding employment than young people, so the premise underlying JobMaker is dubious. Also, ageism is meant to be illegal, yet we now see the government facilitating the practice with significant bribes. How can this be considered to be appropriate?

Tell the government that there is no justification for ageism. If it wants to encourage growth in employment, it should not discriminate on the basis of age, especially in the absence of compelling evidence to rebut what any aged person can tell you based on reality.

Response by Robyn Jacobson CTA, Senior Advocate

Thanks to the member for their feedback and the ideas being expressed. The Federal Government’s policy intent underpinning the JobMaker program is primarily to improve the prospects of individuals getting employment or increase workforce participation following the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the Senate’s debate of the Economic Recovery Package (JobMaker Hiring Credit) Amendment Bill 2020 on 10 November 2020 (the Bill was enacted on 13 November 2020), the Minister for Finance, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator Simon Birmingham explained the Government’s reasoning for excluding older workers as follows:

In terms of analysis, the government, in the targeting of this program, has relied very much on the experience of past recessions and the modelling and analytical work undertaken in that regard. The experience of the last recession was that it took a long time for youth employment to recover, far longer than for employment levels overall. Indeed, it took a full decade after the 1990s recession to get the unemployment rate down from where it started to six per cent, but it took 15 years to get the number of jobs for young people back below where it started. We also have data and analysis that show that if those young people stay for a prolonged period of time as recipients of the social safety net then they are likely to be stuck, potentially, in that so-called welfare trap for an ongoing period. That's what we are deliberately seeking to avoid here.

Division 4 of the Age Discrimination Act 2004 contains a range of exemptions which do not make unlawful anything done in compliance with Commonwealth, State and Territory laws, including laws about taxation, superannuation, social security, superannuation, insurance, migration, certain health and employment programs, or in or direct compliance with industrial agreements and awards. Any other outcome would prevent the Federal and State/Territory Governments from being able to apply and enforce the various laws, and implement their policy agendas.

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